It wasn’t quite like the usual last-minute transfer trolley dash by Arsenal. You’ve seen them, the ones resulting in the addition of a fading star, an injured unknown, or a player, on loan, that would hardly dirty his boots. Young Swede, Nikolaj Moller (18) arrived from Malmo with a reputation as an emerging talent and with comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic ringing in his ears.
Let’s face it, if the media can’t label you as “The Next”, then you might as well give up and seek alternative employment in a lesser paid job. Jack Grealish was announced as “The New Gascoigne” after two decent international appearances, which continues an age-old and tiring trend.
Yet Moller may, at the very least, be able to force his way through to the Arsenal first team in double quick time as Mikel Arteta looks for solutions in his goal-shy side. With Martinelli still injured, Lacazette continuing to frustrate, and Willian lacking consistency, the Spanish boss is weighing up his options. Aubameyang can’t buy a goal, Pepe is still waiting for the blue touch paper to ignite and Nketiah is still at the useful apprentice stage, which could mean that an opportunity is at hand.
At 194cm (6ft4), Nikolaj Moller has presence but it’s his technical ability that sets him apart. Tall players lack finesse on occasion and are awkward on the ball. They struggle to navigate the pitch and look as if they may suffer a ‘Bambi moment’ at any second, not so Moller.
He’s good in possession, enjoys chasing the ball down and trying to retrieve it from opposition players. He has great balance, another pleasant surprise for someone so tall, and he can head a ball well. So, he ticks all the boxes and offers something Arsenal lack in a traditional sense.
Perhaps, this is why Mikel Arteta has had him training with the first team as he contemplated experimenting with a spluttering Arsenal side for the away trip to Leeds on Sunday. Inclusion would have been too soon and a major snub for the more senior players, but one can understand Arteta’s frustrations with a lack of goals from his two senior strikers and the inability to provide chances from open play.
Nikolaj Moller could be the target man for the odd hoof upfield, with Arsenal still insisting on walking the ball from back to front. The Swede would represent a decent plan ‘B’ just to mix things up a little. The youngster is knee-deep in competition at the Emirates and will almost certainly play second fiddle to Martinelli, when fit, but so will many others.
Martinelli is the player that most Arsenal fans would put straight into the side at this point of the season, if fit, but who knows, Nikolaj Moller could nudge out the likes of Nketiah and Balogun from contention if all goes well. That’s the real question here isn’t it, can the Swede make the short transition from prospect to first-team player?
We’ve covered this recently with Joe Willock and despite Nketiah picking up goals, I remain unconvinced that he is physically robust enough for the Premier League. What we can say is that Arteta has options for the upcoming Premier League games, some more radical than others.